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  • FIRST POST
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 28th Jul 18, 11:09 PM
    • 1,547Posts
    • 11,271Thanks
    elsiepac
    August 2018 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 28th Jul 18, 11:09 PM
    August 2018 Grocery Challenge 28th Jul 18 at 11:09 PM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the eighth Grocery Challenge of 2018 !!!!

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your July budget, then keep on posting in the July Challenge.

    As always this challenge is to reduce your own grocery budget to levels that you will be pleased with, not forgetting that we always recommend that you stay inside your own comfort levels and take things gently one step at a time. Remember that this is not a competition....it's designed to take you and your grocery spending to a level you are happy with.

    If you are new to the challenge I have quoted the advice from Galtizz below which will help you get started.

    Please post into this thread for help and advice and support at any time. Good luck to everyone taking part!


    I have said this before, but for all the newbies to the challenge;

    For the first month I took a guess at the budget but I really had no idea how much I was spending.

    I found the best thing is to have a guess the first month but SAVE ALL OF YOUR RECEIPTS (and yes, that does include the ones from the local shop when you run out of milk), then at the end of the month add them all up and have a look if you were on budget, if not, it doesn't matter because your budget was a guess. For the next month you can use the total of your receipts and take a bit off to get a realistic budget, just shave off as much as you think you can, it could be £1 a week or £20 a week.

    If you are currently spending £200 a month don't suddenly drop it to £100 - you'll never do it but if you cut £20 a month off for a few months you'll get there eventually without feeling you're missing out on anything.

    You might think you've done everything you can in the first month but someone always comes up with a new idea and, if you try it you often find you save a bit more (unless you are SarahSaver who is an expert at this and could only save more if she turned her back garden into a paddy field and lived on rice ) In the first month I thought, I'm planning meals, I couldn't possibly save any more, but then I started double cooking and freezing, and making soup instead of buying it in tins.

    I've been doing this since Feb but only saved ALL of my receipts last month, it has given me a much better idea of where it is all going. Budget for next month is £80 for 2 of us, I'll start on 30/4. I could probably save more, by eating different foods but I can afford to live on £80, I have saved a lot of money since Feb. and I don't waste food or money any more. So I'm happy with my budget.
    By request, here is Spiggles wonderful helpful post


    We all have different budgets that suit our households. The most important thing to remember is that you set yours according to your needs and finances. It can take time to get to where you want to be too so don't knock yourself out if you go over in the first few months. We are here to support each other and it is not a competition.

    I thought it might help to outline where we've come from and the top tips I've learned.

    When we started in March 2010 we had spent in excess of £600 in the previous month. This had to stop, (there's only me and him and our two beautiful black cats) something which thankfully my OH completely agreed with so I have been lucky that he has been on board from the start. He gave me his debit card voluntarily and I still keep hold of it until he needs to get something for the home. At the same time we set up a system of pocket money (pm) at £15 each per week which doesn't count towards the GC and which we can each spend as we wish with no comebacks or complaints. OH predominantly uses his pm on his beer and I ferret mine away mostly.

    The next step was to set up my own spreadsheet which is absolutely simple onto which I put all spends so that I have a continuous running total for the month and for the year. We initially set our budget at £280 per month and brought it down to £240 where it resides for most of the year it is occasionally increased to allow for extras e.g. Christmas to £260.

    The important 'tools' we found greatly helped and continue to do so now are:

    Stocktake cupboards, fridge, freezer - make lists and ensure that the older products get used up first. You'll be amazed at what you find squirrelled away and it will help with your shopping list as you'll realise that you don't actually need so much.

    Before you go shopping check staples - running out of milk, bread, butter, etc often leads to going into a shop for one thing and coming out £20 lighter. Always check these and if they'll run out tomorrow buy them the same time as getting other things.

    Always make a shopping list and stick to it - the supermarkets (sm) try every which way to get us to spend so having a list and strong resolve is the only way to beat them.

    Keep every receipt - and then note it down on your spreadsheet/spend diary so that you always know where you are.

    When tempted, ask yourself do you NEED it or just WANT it - now this advice goes with two things. Firstly, the things you see in store when shopping that APPEAR to be bargains - if you hadn't planned spending the money then its not a bargain. Secondly, the sm send us loads of vouchers for £X off a spend of £XX - if you had no NEED to spend £XX then have you SAVED anything???

    Use my supermarket to compare prices (limited to four of the biggies) - The site may be used to actually do an online shop at whichever of the big four offers the best value or, if you have the time and sm availability, to make up lists for visiting each of the stores so that you can purchase all you need at different stores thus getting the best possible value. (I'd add, do a 'shop' virtually on this site and take the list you create on it with you, whichever one you shop at, it will help keep target prices in your head and allow you to spot bargains. Mr M is not included but you can do a virtual list on their website so you know what you're going to be spending.)

    Always have a list - this is just as important when shopping online as shopping on foot.

    Use Approved Foods online (with a list!) - if you don't mind out of date things (ood) or you can search for only in date items. The only drawback is storing the goods as far as I can tell. Oh, and watch the delivery as it's done on a scaled charge for weight so keep an eye on it. You can of course do an AF order with friends, family, colleagues or like minded neighbours. Other GCers use Big Br*nds 4 Less too.

    Invest in a bread maker - we have saved so much by making our own bread. The prices in the shops are extortionate for bread these days. There's loads of advice on this thread and others in the forum on this.

    Use the recipe lists - always posted at the front of a new thread. There are fantastic, tasty, healthy and economical recipes to use on them and there are a number of other threads on the forum such as Weezl's that will help you to eat well on a budget.

    Shop locally - the local greengrocer (or preferably market but I don't have one ) is usually cheaper as an option for fruit and veg (f&v) than the sm. Often the prices may look the same but when you look at the quantity for the same price the greengrocer will be cheaper. The same goes for the local butcher. Often you will have far more variety of meat available, advice on how to cook a particular meat can be offered and there is (for me at least) no comparison in terms of quality. We buy our huge FR eggs there and I'm yet to find an equivalent FR egg in a sm at the same or lower price. Obviously if you have your own chicks/know someone who has chicks you can get them even cheaper again.

    Grow your own - it's quite simple to grow some f&v at home even if it's only in pots on the patio. There are also supportive threads on the forum for this.

    Cook your own - making meals at home from ingredients is far more economical, often tastes better than shop bought and is probably far better health wise.

    Meal Plan - this is something that others can advise on as we don't do it. I have a tremendous capacity for eating the same food over many days but presented in slightly different form. For example, we could buy £7 worth of brisket from the butchers and eat it as pot roast for a couple of days, sliced for sarnies, sliced with a salad, chucked into a casserole or shredded up and fried as crispy beef.

    Don't waste food - either only make what you need or use any leftovers for other meals/creations or freeze it for another day.

    Withdraw the cash you want to spend - and keep it in a separate purse. This can be particularly effective as you have the money in front of you reducing rather than spending with plastic which is so easy to lose track of. Very useful when you first start out.

    Don't go to the shops to browse - this can only lead to pain and hardship!!!

    Keep posting and reading the thread - there really is no better supportive, wise and inspirational place to be! I think I saw that somebody mentioned forgetting to read/post. I get around this by using the Advanced button to post, below the window where your text is displayed you will see Additional Options. In the Thread Subscription box use the dropdown to select either instant email notification (this is what I use) or daily email notification before you submit your latest post. Then you will get an email into your inbox from which you can click to the thread to see what others are saying.

    Always remember the sm is not your friend - it wants to profit from you and take as much of your money as it can coerce out of you!

    So, there you go as a starting point. Others on here will offer tremendous advice on meal planning. And don't forget, the only silly question is the one you didn't ask!

    See you all later,
    Spigs
    For guidelines on posting in this thread please read the second post in this thread.

    For the Grocery challenge Recipe Index please see posts #4 to #10 this thread (the list is growing!!!!!)

    For everyone's totals, see post #3 on this thread

    I hope everyone has a great month!

    elsiepac
    Last edited by elsiepac; 19-08-2018 at 9:31 AM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Old Style, Greenfingered, Energy & Going Out Deals boards which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and I can move and merge threads there. Please remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this) Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
    GC: Nov 18 £0/£tbc
    Vegan 27-8-13
Page 3
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 2nd Aug 18, 9:40 AM
    • 1,547 Posts
    • 11,271 Thanks
    elsiepac
    Budgets updated to here
    I'm a Board Guide on the Old Style, Greenfingered, Energy & Going Out Deals boards which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and I can move and merge threads there. Please remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this) Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
    GC: Nov 18 £0/£tbc
    Vegan 27-8-13
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 2nd Aug 18, 5:08 PM
    • 587 Posts
    • 7,208 Thanks
    MadamMim2013
    I'm in.. I'm in..
    Well over last month so can I please be listed for £350 this is mainly due to holibobs and all, teens graze like sheep when I'm at work, tho eldest has just got a job at a local supermarket (the discount in a few weeks will come in handy & may allow me to reduce my budget again!) so fingers crossed for less munching!
    Living life happily! Debt Free date: 06/2018!!!
    Jan-Nov 83 DecGC £99.21/£300
    :
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 3rd Aug 18, 8:02 AM
    • 98 Posts
    • 1,157 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    Good morning everyone
    well such a change in the weather here. It has been raining for the last few days and the garden is loving it. I have beautiful chives in the garden does anyone know if I they freeze well.
    Last two days NSDs so everyday is a bonus.
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 3rd Aug 18, 9:28 AM
    • 1,547 Posts
    • 11,271 Thanks
    elsiepac
    Morning all! I've managed to spend a lot of my budget already as usual but have some ideas on how to manage the rest of the month - I'm still adding up spends so will update when I know exactly where I am...

    Also -

    Budgets updated to here
    I'm a Board Guide on the Old Style, Greenfingered, Energy & Going Out Deals boards which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and I can move and merge threads there. Please remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this) Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
    GC: Nov 18 £0/£tbc
    Vegan 27-8-13
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 3rd Aug 18, 10:26 AM
    • 329 Posts
    • 3,488 Thanks
    JingsMyBucket
    Morning everyone! I can't believe it's Friday already. Sheesh. This week genuinely flew by.
    I was also thinking about getting sliced ham there too but just remembered I have a cooked ham shank in the freezer I should use up. So there’s more and space money saved! I’ll pull that out tonight so I can start nibbling on it tomorrow.
    Originally posted by JingsMyBucket
    ^^^ I am really glad I pulled that small ham shank out of the freezer and I have now started carving slices off it for meals. It is so good and I think this may be the way forward instead of buying packed slices of ham regularly. It'll come out to be less much expensive along with giving me ham bones to make bean soup in the winter. That's the only thing that makes me vaguely excited for cooler weather this fall.

    Yesterday I went to Lidl and Delhaize, spending more in both places than intended.

    €13.72 at Lidl. They still had packages of sliced English cheddar leftover from Brit Week, so I snatched up two of those. I also got olives, kiwis, mozzarella and a tub of tomatoes. The trout I went there for wasn't to be found at all along with a few other items like the cheaper tomatoes I wanted.

    €42.70 at Delhaize. Lots of fruit, yoghurt, halloumi, butter, trout, 2x boxes of Mr. Freeze ice pops to keep at home and a few special items for OH like egg salad and smoothies. I told him last night that we should just start making egg salad at home since these small containers cost €1.85 each. We could make the same amount ourselves for about 20’! He seems to be onboard and I'll try it this weekend. Turns out the trout non-sale pricing at Delhaize was actually cheaper than Lidl's sale price so that's a good deal I noted for later.

    I'm just going to claim today as a NSD now because we don't need any other fruit or veg for the next couple days.

    TOTALS SO FAR:
    €79.94 / €300.00
    1 / 12 NSD

    That's such a huge amount and we're only 2 days into the month! We're not sure what the British expat store has in stock as it'll be our first time there tomorrow. I'm going with a basic list in mind but will try to restrain myself and try to remember that I'll still have access to it at a later time if need be. After the shop tomorrow, I think I may ration my weekly grocery spend to €35/week to keep in line. I'll update my sig tomorrow afternoon after we return from the Brit store. Have a lovely and cool Friday everyone!
    DEC 18 GC: €138.33/€350.00 // 7/12 NSD
    NOV 18 GC: €436.44/€300.00 // 13/12 NSD
    OCT 18 GC: €293.20/€300.00 // 13/12 NSD
    • amyanne
    • By amyanne 3rd Aug 18, 1:55 PM
    • 9 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    amyanne
    Please can I join for £160. I've been sharing food costs with someone in the family but want to go it alone now, partly to save money, partly to continue with weight loss. My last contribution to food costs was £180 for the month of June and I expect it will be something similar for July, so £160 seems a good starting point.
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 3rd Aug 18, 5:20 PM
    • 3,700 Posts
    • 12,260 Thanks
    Doom_and_Gloom
    £29.47 spent today.
    Mostly tin and dry goods bought. So for the rest of the month it is basically only going to be fresh, though need some frozen vegetables. Not as sad to look at the budget left when I think it like that.

    £86.54/£155.
    £68.46 left.
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 3rd Aug 18, 6:13 PM
    • 2,044 Posts
    • 17,526 Thanks
    K9sandFelines
    £5.53 on amazon subscribe and save parcel of Vital Wheat Gluten flour.

    I'm peed off i had to rebuy this, but because my (rented) kitchen has been extended into what was the yard, it isn't entirely weatherproof and the bags i had stocked up on went mouldy and had to be binned
    GC 2017 (£3,434.09/£4,000) Jan £264.28, Feb £179.18, Mar £290.38, Apr £182.39, May £210.24 Jun £122.33, Jul £149.45, Aug £199.22, Sep £211.46, OCT £227.94, Nov £200.33, Dec £36.15 (£2,237.75/£3,250 p.a)
    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
    • Chloris
    • By Chloris 3rd Aug 18, 7:29 PM
    • 648 Posts
    • 9,376 Thanks
    Chloris
    Hello All. I went over on the last day of the July budget. So annoying as it was completely my fault. It was a back from holiday, hangover shop. I won't be doing that again.

    Budget for August will be £500. So £50 more as I have a guest for a week and my family birthday party to cater for. I always spend too much.

    So weekly shop at lldl and salns, and paid milkman, bringing me to £113.40. There is loads in the fridges, freezers and cupboards.

    Thank you for the thread. Good luck all. Xx
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 3rd Aug 18, 9:09 PM
    • 2,854 Posts
    • 35,529 Thanks
    thriftwizard
    £72 spent yesterday & today, on fresh meat, fish, cheese, fruit, veg & bread, which will mostly do us all week along with allotment pickings & home-laid eggs, though I'll also be doing a "non-perishables" run to L!dls tomorrow or Tuesday.

    We've just spent a small fortune on a "proper" chicken run and coop, as our 15 y.o. shed-&-old-aviary-panel arrangement has reached the end of its useful life, so we've invested in something that looks a bit less hillbilly-ish, as we may be looking to sell our house & move west before too long. This arrangement could move with us, but would at least look neater for potential buyers, whether they'd want to keep poultry or not. So I really need to stick to budget this month & for the foreseeable future; there are other tarting-up expenses upcoming.
    Angie

    GC Dec 18 - £214.45/£550
    Bulk-buy purse '18 £239.56/£250, pet & livestock food '18 £403.63/£300

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 4th Aug 18, 12:08 AM
    • 1,280 Posts
    • 15,265 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    Can I be added for £80 for the month. To include all food, etc., but not alcohol, I'm gonna spend as much as I want for the last of the summer - then get back to that little thing of healthy living in September she says quaffing on her 3rd cocktail. Wasn't going to join this month, in a very 'lazy' mood. Five shops later, two to the market, three to the supermarket, fridge rammed somewhat full - so here I iz. Anyway in all I have spent £28.46/£80, and it's only day 3 - not intending on buying anything else for the foreseeable future. Oh yeah, n spent another £11 out of bulk fund on toilet rolls, Vegenaise, blah blah. Shopping is so overrated. I honestly prefer saving.
    £5.53 on amazon subscribe and save parcel of Vital Wheat Gluten flour. I'm peed off i had to rebuy this, but because my (rented) kitchen has been extended into what was the yard, it isn't entirely weatherproof and the bags i had stocked up on went mouldy and had to be binned
    Originally posted by K9sandFelines
    Oh dear - n it ain't cheap. I made my first batch of seitan last week, a basic batch n some steaks - so shocked at how they tasted like real steak. Will be slightly tweeking n making more soon.




    Anyway, I'm out for lunch tomorrow n a barbeque in the evening, so will start meal planning hopefully Sunday. Have a lovely w/e everyone.
    December Grocery Challenge - £38.86/£80
    Bulk Fund - Food £41.47
    Save 12k in 2018 #80 = £4,620
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 4th Aug 18, 9:17 AM
    • 98 Posts
    • 1,157 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    Good morning everyone
    £15+ spent this morning. First spend of the month.
    Avoiding shops for the rest of the weekend.
    Will be out and about but not going near any shops. (famous last words)
    Have a great weekend everyone whatever you plan to do.
    • RedFraggle
    • By RedFraggle 4th Aug 18, 5:22 PM
    • 766 Posts
    • 2,160 Thanks
    RedFraggle
    First shop done at Mr T. A whopping £94.61!
    Few extras as our 4 year old granddaughter is coming to stay for the week tomorrow. Wine was also on offer so bought 8 bottles.
    £255.39 left!
    Officially in a clique of idiots
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 4th Aug 18, 5:49 PM
    • 329 Posts
    • 3,488 Thanks
    JingsMyBucket
    We skipped going to the Brit store today as OH was feeling slow and sluggish. He was moving in slow motion the whole morning even though we woke up early enough to venture out before it got too hot. So, we’ve pushed the trip to tomorrow morning. Today has at least been a NSD! We’ve been sucking down Mr. Freeze icees the whole day to keep cool.

    TOTALS SO FAR:
    €79.94 / €300.00
    2 / 12 NSD
    DEC 18 GC: €138.33/€350.00 // 7/12 NSD
    NOV 18 GC: €436.44/€300.00 // 13/12 NSD
    OCT 18 GC: €293.20/€300.00 // 13/12 NSD
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 4th Aug 18, 6:41 PM
    • 1,547 Posts
    • 11,271 Thanks
    elsiepac
    Hi everyone

    I've got all my budgets up to date and I have £59.50 left of my £200 budget. ALREADY. I can't even say I'm fully stocked up as I will need a couple of salad bits, but not really anything else for a few days I don't think. I have exactly 3 weeks left of my budget this month so I'll need to go a bit careful, but I think if I'm really on top of it, I might be able to come in on budget this month. It will be the first one in a long while! If I do!!

    Budgets updated to here
    I'm a Board Guide on the Old Style, Greenfingered, Energy & Going Out Deals boards which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and I can move and merge threads there. Please remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this) Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
    GC: Nov 18 £0/£tbc
    Vegan 27-8-13
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 5th Aug 18, 8:52 AM
    • 1,075 Posts
    • 6,606 Thanks
    pamsdish
    Bought a potato yesterday 65p, I intended to have some chips, ate too much other rubbish and forgot to get steak out of freezer, so spud gone into spud bag for later in the week, will add £1 when I make a proper spend.
    JAN£200=£107FEB£200=£40MARCH£175=£50
    APRIL£200=£35 May£200=£61 JUNE£200=£6
    JULY £200=£11 AUG£180=£57SEPT£180=£57Lost OCT, under budget
    NOV£150£14LOST the plot. DEC£200-£39=£161-£9=£152-£10=£142-£13=£129-£4=£125-£18=£107,-£23=£84
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 5th Aug 18, 1:10 PM
    • 329 Posts
    • 3,488 Thanks
    JingsMyBucket
    Oh dear. Seems like we got caught up in buying things at the Brit store.

    €113.60 at Brit store: we bought a lot of shelf stable items like lime pickle, different kinds of HP sauce, ginger conserve, and more. We also got several pies to put in the freezer along with a haggis and a mealie pudding. The pies were surprisingly only €1.50 or €3.00. I also got two more blocks of cheddar.

    At first I was trying to be careful adding up things as we put them in our basket but OH told me, "Don't worry or bother about this. This will be a blow out." As in, just put in what we like. Still, I was paying attention to prices but totally forgot to look at the prices of the Waitrose chicken kievs...€7.50! I didn't notice until we were on the bus back home!

    What we did notice is that some of the prices really weren't that much more than if we bought them in the regular grocery store here in our city or more than a currency translation from pound to euro. Of course, the chocolate Hobnobs were €2.50 instead of 50p, and the chicken kievs, etc but those are obviously their money makers. I tried hard to remind myself that we could just come back another time if anything else is desired. We'll return later in autumn for sausages and things.

    €10.40 at the rotisserie chicken/meat truck in my local market. I bought a chicken leg quarter, a small ham shank to slice off this week, and some roast potatoes for OH.

    6.20 at the veg market for avocados, arugula and bananas.

    TOTALS SO FAR:
    €210.14 / €300.00
    2 / 12 NSD

    I need to have a word with myself... Only €89.86 left for the month and we're only 5 days in. Jeebus. Well, at least I don't have to buy anymore cheddar for a bit. Time to just eat down the stocks which I have been doing lately. I pulled out a YS duck leg yesterday and I'll cut some of that up to make a stir fry tonight; I'll also do a curry for OH to take to work the next few days too.

    Good luck everyone and I sincerely hope y'all are doing much better than me!!
    DEC 18 GC: €138.33/€350.00 // 7/12 NSD
    NOV 18 GC: €436.44/€300.00 // 13/12 NSD
    OCT 18 GC: €293.20/€300.00 // 13/12 NSD
    • caronc
    • By caronc 5th Aug 18, 5:11 PM
    • 4,825 Posts
    • 29,259 Thanks
    caronc
    Small shop today, mainly loo rool & toiletries. Total so far for August £47/£140

    • More tea please
    • By More tea please 5th Aug 18, 8:56 PM
    • 15 Posts
    • 109 Thanks
    More tea please
    Hi all,

    Spent £54.58 in Aldi and £13.60 in Tesco this weekend...So £68.18/£500 spent. Hopeful that I should be able to stick to the budget this month but we shall see.
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 6th Aug 18, 7:44 AM
    • 98 Posts
    • 1,157 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    Good morning everyone
    rainy and murky this morning. Thank goodness washing is up to date and got most of it washed, dried, and ironed yesterday. I did want to change and wash bedding today but washing it will have to wait for another day.
    Planning to clean out another two shelves in my wardrobe. Will have to start to fill another bag for the charity shop.
    I am blessed with very generous friends and family but I just don't have the storage space for everything I am given. I know that may sound ungrateful and I don't want it to. I try to pass on extra I am given or donate to charity.
    I have dropped hints the last few years re presents and have suggested some bits and bobs I need/use. e.g. shower lotion, deodorant, shampoo, body lotion. I know this might sound terrible but my family will give me gifts anyway and they are always at a loss as to what to give me so they are grateful for any guidance on what they could buy.
    This also brings down my GC budgets as my GC total covers everything e.g toiletries, cleaning materials etc. I also now receive vouchers for little treats e.g. afternoon tea, cinema etc. which are lovely. I also try to give "anti clutter" gifts. Last year I gave some of my friends I.O.U. vouchers for home made cakes. They were delighted with them.
    I am running low on washing powder. Usually buy giant box from Costc* but hoping to hang off until next month before I visit.
    Going to take out a gammon steak for dinner. Not sure whether to incorporate it into some type of pasta dish or just have it with potatoes and veg. Will decide nearer the time. Meal plan a bit flexible at the moment as I am trying to eat up some freezer stocks but no hard and fast rules re recipes.
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